Travel Memories in Covid Times
A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never return to its original dimensions. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
So we’re all on shelter in place orders here in California and we have been for six or seven weeks, honestly it’s easy to lose track when every day is the same. If you read this blog regularly you know that travel is a big part of my life, my happiness, and my very soul. I write about it often, I’ve written a book about my time on the Appalachian Trail. So while sheltering in place, and not being able to travel and not even seeing a prospect of doing the type of travel I like to do, anytime soon. I’ve really for that reason, kept my mind off of traveling, my future plans or the potential missed opportunities we’re all losing out on right now. I just simply felt that it would be better for my mental state not to think or dwell on that reality given everything that is going on in the world.
But as we all know, nothing you’re trying not to think about stays down very long. For me, it is often music that takes me into mental spaces I’m trying to avoid. It’s music that often triggers my writing, particularly my poetry work like the things I wrote about in Otherness and Athena’s Addict. So I was driving the other day and one of my favorite songs came on, Marrakesh Express, by Crosby, Stills and Nash. I’ve heard that song for most of my life and honestly it put taking the Marrakesh Express on my bucket list. When I finally decided I would visit Morocco I immediately investigated the idea. To be fully transparent, I actually took it the other way from Marrakesh through Casablanca to Tangier. I of course had my MP3 player, of course at one point I listened to the song and was blissfully happy for the double reality of the song and finally realizing one of my dreams of being on that train.
So often you dream about something for so log that when it actually happens it turns out to be a bit of a let down. The thing is, that trip didn’t let me down even a little bit. Leaving the madness of Marrakesh was truly a relief. I both loved and loathed my time in Marrakesh. I had spent three full days living in the old city and it was madness. While spectacular in every moment, while I loved so many things, the old city is a mental and sensory overload. You spend every minute being both pleased and assaulted on all of your senses at once. The people are amazing but also you get solicited more times per minute there, than any place that I have ever been. During my time there, I saw amazing beauty, I saw ugliness, I saw kind and amazing people and every level of con man you can imagine. The word cacophony was viscerally defined for me. I loved it, but it wore me out in ways I couldn’t possibly have expected.
I walked to the train station to board the train, I was tired and excited to be ticking off a bucket list item. Getting ticketed for the train turned out to be a minor adventure by itself. I also ended up eating at Kentucky Fried Chicken at the train station and had a spicy chicken and rice dish there that I wish they served here, if they did I’d eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken all of the time, it was absolutely amazing.
I climbed on to the train and sat down in one of the cars. The cars were divided into small cabins with two rows of three seats facing each other. Our car would eventually fill with all six seats being occupied for a time. The first person to enter the cabin was a beautiful young woman, I casually said hello. She seemed a bit aloof and honestly now I no longer remember what exactly broke the ice but we began to talk. It turned out, she was a traveler as well, she had been learning English in Canada I believe, had spent time in Spain and was from Brazil. I won’t go into the details but she had not enjoyed her time in Morocco, we got involved in a really deep discussion of culture, misogyny, travel and our experiences. Our conversation flowed uninterrupted for the three or fours hours it took to arrive in Casablanca where we parted ways. In addition to being an amazing conversation, to her being an amazing and beautiful woman, there was another reason this is one of the best conversations I’ve ever had. You see our conversation bounced between three languages, we danced between Spanish, English and Portuguese in a way that was far more comfortable than my ability in those languages should have allowed for, it was a truly special time and conversation with a special person. A couple of times I actually noticed the other inhabitants of the cabin looking at us with a look on their face that seemed to say, who the hell are these people?
So this was the memory that passed across me the other day and made me smile for a couple of reasons. First it was a great memory that brought me pleasure, secondly it seemed to trigger the universe. Hannah posted something on Instagram that night, I messaged her and we talked about that conversation briefly, she remarked it was the best time she had in Morocco. I expressed a hope that someday we’d cross paths again when were both on the road and get to talk again. But the thing that was really awesome was this memory experience, being so positive, didn’t make me feel worse about our shelter in place reality, it actually made me feel better. One of the hopes I’ve always had for my life was that my travels, when I’m older and perhaps unable to travel, would remain a source of satisfaction, comfort and happiness for me. It seems that really will be the case and hopefully travel will do it for you as well, but it certainly has, and seemingly will continue to provide me with happy days my friends. ~ Rev Kane
One of the great things about travel is the memories we gather, along with the people we meet who can change our lives in an afternoon.
I am on the same page – travel is a big part of my life. Morocco was on my bucket list too, and my husband and I made it there in the fall of 2019. I count my lucky atRs now, as originally we had planned to travel this spring, which of course would have never happened. It was truly the trip of a lifetime.
You are spot on about Marrakech- it’s a city teeming with life in all its forms, and sensory overload seems to be a requirement. But the shock of it all is part of what makes it spectacular. Just like the shock of being out of our “zone” with different foods and language can prompt us to take up conversations with strangers.
Here’s to remembering that sense of adventure when we get back out into the world!
Thank you for that thoughtful and spot on comment. I look forward to being able to get back on the road.